Japan’s Sony Corporation, according to The Sunday Times, became the first FIFA sponsor to call for a thorough investigation into accusations bribes were paid to secure the 2022 World Cup tournament for Qatar. “As a FIFA partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately,” reads a Sony statement, reprinted by the London Sunday newspaper. “We continue to expect FIFA to adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations”. Commenting the rather unusual step of a sponsor to say anything publicly on such a sensitive issue, Andy Sutherden, Global Head of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship at the H+K Strategies communications firm said: “This underlines that companies need to make sure that any high profile association enhances their reputation rather than damages it”.
The Sunday Times printed new accusations on Sunday, just four days before the 2014 tournament kicks-off in Brazil, alleging that then-Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari, had brokered meetings between Qatari officials and governments to discuss bilateral trade deals. Qatar denies Bin Hammam was connected to its bid for the Cup. Bin Hammam has not commented. FIFA has already banned Bin Hammam for life from soccer over accusations he paid bribes to win votes for a bid to become FIFA president. That ban was overturned but another was imposed for conflicts of interest.
Former U.S. prosecutor Michael Garcia, leading FIFA’s internal investigation, is due to report in July,
around a week after this year’s World Cup finishes in Brazil.
This article is republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba, the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern.